I'm Brad Nicholson. I've been around, but Destructoid is where my dawgs at. You can see my work here, at MTV, at Giant Bomb or other great places around the Internet. I also run a podcast called The Electric Hydra and work out a lot in my spare time. Yeah. I keep busy.
Awhile back I mentioned that I needed some new Magic: the Gathering cards and that I was interested in checking out a sanctioned store in my area. Thanks to this list supplied by the guys at PlayMagic, I was able to find one and explore its shelves. First off, that list above was something new to me. Apparently every Friday, the guys at Wizards hold a casual tournament called Friday Night Magic. Aside from getting help and learning how to play, FNM gives players the opportunity to win cool prizes! Also, you don’t even have to win the game for some of them, which is vitally important to me at this stage in my Magic career.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the rules of the event that is probably run somewhere in your area as well:
* 1st and 2nd place receive one prize card each.
* Door prize – The tournament organizer will randomly award the remaining two prize cards to two players that did not place first or second.
* FNM events are 8k tournaments and have a Rules Enforcement Level (REL) of 1.
* Stores do not have to run FNM tournaments each week, so contact the store in advance be sure they are running FNM on the date you're planning on visiting.
* All 4 prize cards associated with each Friday Night Magic event must be awarded to the players.
* If fewer than 8 players participate, the event does not count toward player ratings, and prize cards must be returned.
* Friday Night Magic events can only be run on Fridays.
I’m mulling around the possibility of attending an FNM event next week, but for right now I’ll focus on my first trip to my Magic store. As I mentioned, my girlfriend has really been rocking me in the game. She’s good, I’ve got to admit – but I know I can be better. I just need some more cards that break the rules. So, the choice to check out my local store was an easy one.
First off, the majority of these stores aren’t massive. It’s not like walking into Wal-Mart and being under its florescent glow. Magic stores are often small, book brokers. I find this to be the perfect way to learn about the game and be in an environment conducive to the experience.
When I walked into the store I was surprised by the amount of stuff that they had. Booster packs lined the walls, and boxes upon boxes of theme decks were packed on the shelves. It’s like walking into a GameStop, but for cards. I didn’t even know this kind of thing existed.
I stopped to talk to the employee who took care of the Magic section, and he was thoroughly helpful. I asked him about my latest quandary, the +1/-1 counters, and even what the hell goats did. He answered my questions thoroughly, and a few other guys hanging around the store gave their few cents with the issue as well. While sticking my nose in a rulebook for a few minutes would have given me the same lesson, nothing beats being told what something does in person. It sticks better this way. I had to look up the rules for flying creatures a billion times, but it wasn’t until a side conversation at the shop that I really understood what they could do and when.
Because I’m a rookie, I decided to buy a couple of theme decks to settle the score with my girlfriend, the first of which is the black deck from DarkSteel. It’s all about control and the regeneration of your creatures. It sounds like the perfect counter to her hard-hitting and fast Kithkin deck. In addition to this, I was also able to buy a really hip life counter, and a few placeholder cards for her 1/1 knights and my 1/1 goats. Very cool and very helpful.
I took quite a bit from this experience. The first thing I latched onto is how social Magic: the Gathering really is. The majority of people (even myself at one point) argue that Magic is a closeted activity. It’s not. Sure, it’s niche, but it is a wonderfully expressive game that allows you to communicate, make new friends, and even play competitively. It’s like Xbox Live, minus the whole Internet thing. The second thing I’ve grabbed from this experience is how easy it is to get what you need at a Magic store. They have an awesome selection of boosters and singular cards. It’s perfect if you want to build your first deck.
Next up, I almost got beat by a little girl and a demo of the two-player starter pack.